10 Toughest NBA Contracts to Trade
Hardly any player in the NBA comes cheap, yet some talent costs far more than others, and in more ways than one.
Issuing lucrative contracts is always dangerous. If the athlete in question doesn't meet expectations or goes bust altogether, his annual salary can act as a no-trade clause in the sense he can't be moved.
That isn't because the player doesn't want to be dealt or his team doesn't want to deal him, but because the trade simply can't be done—or rather, is near impossible to get done.
There is no such thing as an immovable contract, yet this doesn't mean there aren't deals that come close. Because quite frankly, there are plenty of covenants that are about as easy to relocate as the Sacramento Kings.
10. Mike Miller
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Years Remaining/Contract Value: Three years, $18.6 million
2012-13 Salary: $5.8 million
Heroics in Game 5 of the NBA Finals aside, Mike Miller hasn't been worth a penny of his current deal.
Yet here we are, two years later, and Miller has appeared in just 80 of a possible 148 regular-season games while failing to average more than 6.1 points per contest.
To be fair, the 32-year-old veteran can still shoot—he knocked down over 40 percent of his three-point attempts last season. But Miller is a perpetual injury risk, horrific defender and nowhere near worth the $18.6 million remaining on his contract.
Unless a team is keen on random postseason exploits against underwhelming defensive units, Miller isn't a player to be interested in.
9. Tyrus Thomas
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Years Remaining/Contract Value: Three years, $26.1 million
2012-13 Salary: $8 million
Though it's fantastic to see Tyrus Thomas making a concerted effort to better his future (and that of Charlotte as well), teams don't want to come within 10 feet of this contract.
Thomas took the term "bust" to a whole other level last season, averaging a paltry 5.6 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Such production is hardly indicative of a seven-figure talent, let alone one that is earning close to eight figures.
But here the 26-year-old Thomas is, six years into his career and still without an identity, yet clad with an obnoxious salary that teams should avoid.
Nothing like taking some time to reflect and see how far he's come, eh?
8. Richard Jefferson
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Years Remaining/Contract Value: Two years, $21.2 million
2012-13 Salary: $10,164,000
The 2008-09 campaign was the last time Richard Jefferson actually earned the right to cash any kind of significant paycheck.
Once the athletically inclined small forward joined the Spurs, his career took a turn for the worse.
Not only have Jefferson's yearly point totals been on a steady decline for the past three years, but he's hardly the rim-rocker he once was and is even more of a defensive liability than before.
His 11.15 PER posting was a borderline embarrassment for a player due more than $20 million over the next two seasons.
Fortunately for the Warriors, Jefferson's pact becomes a valuable trade chip next summer.
Unfortunately, next summer cannot come soon enough.
7. Emeka Okafor
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Years Remaining/Contract Value: Two years, $28.1 million
2012-13 Salary: $13,543,250
I get it—Emeka Okafor was moved merely a few months ago in order for the Wizards to take on the lesser of two evils.
There's no way Washington was enticed by the nearly $30 million remaining on his deal, but acquiring Okafor meant ridding the team of Rashard Lewis' poisonous pact. Let's face it—that needed to be done.
As powerful a presence as Okafor holds, his worth is nowhere near such a price tag.
Keep in mind this is the same big man whose offensive production has steadily declined over the past five seasons. He's not a ferocious rebounder or shot-blocker and had more than his share of injury problems last season.
While Okafor never lived up to his potential as a second overall selection, his pay grade sure did, which is anything but comforting.
6. John Salmons
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Years Remaining/Contract Value: Three years, $22.6 million
2012-13 Salary: $8.08 million
Fresh off a 30-game stint in Milwaukee that saw him average nearly 20 points per night to close out the 2009-10 campaign, the Bucks felt it prudent to ink John Salmons to a five-year, $39 million deal.
Looking back on this, I cannot help but laugh. On the flip side, the Kings cannot help but cry.
Salmons is eating valuable cap space, and his completely unwarranted deal doesn't become a viable trade chip for another two years (and who knows how much further into the ground the Maloofs can run that franchise by then).
Can Salmons redeem himself?
Unlikely, to say the least. Not only is he 32, but his production levels hovered around 7.5 points and 2.9 rebounds per game last season. Let's not forget about his eyesore 9.04 PER either.
After just one season in Sacramento, it's clear that the Kings need to move on from Salmons. The only problem: His paychecks make severing such ties damn near impossible.
5. Andris Biedrins
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Years Remaining/Contract Value: Two years, $18 million (last year is a player option)
2012-13 Salary: $9 million
This one stings if you're a Warriors fan.
For the past eight years, Andris Biedrins has done nothing but underachieve with Golden State. Though he was once believed to be a big man with star potential on both ends of the floor, the seven-footer instead proved to be a massive bust.
He hit rock bottom last season when he had the worst year of his career, averaging 1.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game on his way to posting a 8.77 PER, 41st among the league's centers.
Despite Biedrins' struggles on both ends of the court, there is actually a light at the end of this dark tunnel. Next year, his expiring contract becomes a valuable trade chip, one Golden State is likely to use.
But for now, the Warriors are stuck with Biedrins, because no team in its right mind would deal for such a colossal failure.
4. Carlos Boozer
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Years Remaining/Contract Value: Three years, $47.1 million
2012-13 Salary: $15 million
On the surface, Carlos Boozer may seem worth the price (and he quite possibly is), yet that doesn't erase the constant reservations that surround him.
Though the power forward averaged 15 points and 8.5 rebounds per game last season, such numbers pale in comparison to his averages of 19.5 points and 11.2 rebounds merely two years ago.
Boozer, at age 30, doesn't have the cleanest bill of health and continues to get exploited defensively. This is why the Bulls—the NBA's best defensive team last season—are less than partial to the idea of paying him nearly $50 million over the next three years.
This reasoning is standard for the rest of the league. It's never a wise investment to commit an ample amount of cash to a deteriorating athlete, which is exactly what Boozer is at this point.
Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE
Years Remaining/Contract Value: Four years, $52 million
2012-13 Salary: $13 million
Let's call Nene what he is—an overpaid perpetual injury risk.
While Nene is one of the NBA's more refined big men, he was unable to stay healthy long enough last season to show the world why the Nuggets inked him to such a fat contract in the first place.
His struggles to remain healthy pushed Denver to trade him to Washington, where he saw court time in just 11 games.
Nene's saving grace is his potential two-way impact. He has a great touch around the basket and a wide array of crafty moves in the post, and he is both an underrated interior defender and rebounder.
Plenty of teams would be lucky to have him, right?
Not at $13 million annually for the next four years. At 30, it's highly unlikely that Nene will free himself from his inability to remain healthy.
While the Wizards felt it prudent to roll the dice on him, it's unlikely another organization would feel the same way this time around.
2. Joe Johnson
Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
Years Remaining/Contract Value: Four years, $89.3 million
Nothing helps mold perspective like a photo of Brooklyn's pair of eight-figure men, especially when one of them is Joe Johnson.
I understand Johnson was dealt to the Nets just months ago, but that hardly means his contract is easy to move.
Let's face it: If Brooklyn wasn't a deep-pocketed organization desperate for a proven presence to help its Deron Williams cause, Johnson would still be in Atlanta right now.
The Nets needed his 18.8 points per game and 38.8 percent conversion rate from downtown. Without the addition of Johnson, Williams may have signed with the Mavericks, and Brooklyn wouldn't have a single star to christen the Barclays Center.
Johnson's contract is movable under only the most desperate of circumstances and can be sent to only the most financially stable teams. Considering these two conditions rarely go hand in hand, Johnson's deal is one of the NBA's most difficult to move.
1. Amar'e Stoudemire
Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
Years Remaining/Contract Value: Three years, $65.1 million
2012-13 Salary: $19,948,799
That one word says it all.
We know that Amar'e Stoudemire is coming off the worst season of his career since his rookie campaign, but that's not what would prevent teams from shelling out $65 million over the next three years to have him don their colors.
No, that honor belongs to the nature of his uninsured contract. Considering Stoudemire has a history of back, eye and knee problems, one could hardly consider that a sound (or even justifiable) investment.
While his statistical demise last season—17.5 points and 7.8 rebounds on 48.3 percent shooting per game—is cause for major concern, the losing battle he has been fighting to remain healthy is what destroys Stoudemire's value on the trade market.
To the point where Amar'e—in all his six-time All-Star glory—is close to immovable.